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Speakeasy’s Downtown Vibes on a Midtown Rooftop: Tales From Behind the DJ Booth

DJ Speakeasy spins on the Refinery Rooftop.

Those who find themselves on the Refinery Rooftop are immediately taken by the terrace, which sits in the sky surrounded by Manhattan’s monumental high rises. The rest of the bar is decorated with red brick walls, a spacious floor and delicious artisanal cocktails. More mellow than a nightclub, the music humbly serenades the background until, at some point in the early evening, one of the best DJs in NYC shows up.

She throws out some hip hop with the soulful roots of James Brown, and it’s surrounded by glitter-dance sounds reminiscent of Daft Punk and she pushes and switches. This uptempo yet relatively relaxed noise moves into the rooftop’s forefront and fills the picturesque venue with youthful and sophisticated flare. Working within the Rooftop’s high-class atmosphere, DJ Speakeasy always makes sure to turn things up just the right amount and bring a sound that’s a bit unusual for the Midtown crowd.

The story behind her style begins few years back and it involves the influence of other DJs in New York City. While studying at Marymount College, a younger DJ Speakeasy went out to Pink Elephant with some girlfriends and found the wow in the resident DJ’s set. In awe of the contained energetic crescendo the DJ put into the crowd, Speakeasy decided to start mixing tunes herself. She sought out an internship with locally renowned sound-man DJ Schuller. Through Schuller’s tutelage and industry contacts, DJ Speakeasy quickly began booking shows and creating her own connections.

Constructing her artistic identity, Speakeasy cultivated an ear and passion for hip-hop, EDM, trap and new disco. Superimposing the proud roar of the world’s greatest emcees over pretty dance beats, she developed a sound she dubbed as “Glitter Trap.” Speakeasy honed this style playing clubs and listening to some of the best DJs in NYC, who performed around Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.

jim - jones - dj - speakeasy - image
Jim Jones, exposing himself as an absolute boss.

The night that Speakeasy realized she was onto something, she was slated to play at the DL, a popular nightclub on the Lower East Side. Right before her set, management told Speakeasy that her performance would be cut short because the club had to accommodate an album release party for world-famous rapper Jim Jones. Limited to just a half hour, Speakeasy decided that she would, “just go ham for like 30 minutes.” Sticking to her decision, the young DJ threw it down for the entirety of her short set. She performed so well that after the show, Jim Jones himself went up and asked her, “You done already?” Speakeasy smiled and confirmed.

“Damn,” Jones replied. “I was really digging your set!” While Speakeasy was already stoked about the music she played, this compliment from such a prominent figure in the industry turned the night into an inspirational and memorable point in her career.

Moving forward, Speakeasy has continued chasing shows, leading her to the Refinery Rooftop, where she continuously works to expand and hone the style and vibe she conceived back in the day. Considering where she developed her sound and its contrast with the Top 40 catalogue most DJs in New York City and Midtown pull from, Speakeasy understands what she brings to the table. When asked what she adds to the Refinery Rooftop experience, the young DJ explained why guests should attend her Thursday-night and Sunday-afternoon sets: “I bring that Downtown vibe to Midtown.”



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